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Blog Entry

NFL Tiebreaking Rules and Procedures Discussion

Posted on: January 3, 2012 1:51 am
 

Due to incredible demand (okay...maybe it's just a few vocal individuals)...I'd like to float this blog entry to discuss NFL Tiebreaking Rules and Procedures.

Discussion topics should include:

- Any questions on the Rules and how they are applied in figuring out NFL scenarios prior to the end of the regular season (my job for last 18 seasons)

- Historical Anecdotes on NFL Tiebreaking Rules and past examples of the application of the Rules on Prior seasons

- Potential ways for the NFL to improve the Tiebreaker Rules

- Why can't we all just get along?  (kidding...sort of)

- Anything else that comes up NFL Tiebreaker, Draft order, Scheduling Formula related


Hopefully we'll get our regulars here along with some new voices to chime in...and I will check here as often as possible to answer any questions directed at me.


Let the party begin!!! 

 

Comments

Since: Nov 21, 2011
Posted on: January 16, 2012 12:25 am
 

NFL Tiebreaking Rules and Procedures Discussion

In general, I think Jerry's version is a bit more concise and smooth, but that's just me. I do however like Brett's a, b, c breakdown of how to advance or eliminate teams. That is so widely misunderstood that clarifying is good, even with a few added words. Also, I would argue that we should not really be concerned with the efficiency of the format for people who are good with the tiebreakers; they don't have to read it. But for beginners, it is important to clear up the common misconception. The other option would be to make the official document as brief as possible, and NFL.com add like a "tiebreakers 101" page. That would probably work pretty well too.



Since: Jan 8, 2010
Posted on: January 14, 2012 9:05 pm
 

NFL Tiebreaking Rules and Procedures Discussion

Brett, also why does your definition of H2H sweep continue to ignore some perfectly valid scenarios where we should be eliminating certain teams.  You know what I'm talking about...


-Cheers
-Jerry



Since: Jan 8, 2010
Posted on: January 14, 2012 8:57 pm
 

NFL Tiebreaking Rules and Procedures Discussion

Brett, that thing is a mess.

Ok, but seriously, it's soooo long and you didn't even paste the whole thing in here.  If you want people, particularily the competition committee to take a serious look it at, then the their first impression shouldn't be how excessively long it is.  

Brevity, Brevity, Brevity.

And if you use the term "Interdivisional" again, I think I am going to freak out.  Please erase that word from your vocabulary and stick to terms/phrases that those among the NFL already use like "Conference Teams" or  "Teams from Multiple Divisions" 

Here's a few more comments.

Also no need to make major changes to the wording on Best Ranking steps, that's already explained in the procedural notes, and it ought to stay that way since there are some nuances to those steps.  We should keep the steps as familiar as feasible except where change is absolutely needed.  We might be ok with change, but in general people don't like major overhauls.
Random Selection is too open ended.  Stick to the coin flip.  A concept that even 2nd graders will understand.
Head-to-Head record. For multi-team ties: combined head-to-head record. - You can just say best combined head-to-head record among tied clubs, this definition works even for the trivial case of there being only two tied clubs.

Your section about Tie-breaking special cases aren't special cases at all.  They are common uses of the procedure and necessary for the reader to understand proper application of those cases.  This information must be moved before the steps of the procedure, unless our goal is to maintain confused readers.  If you want people to be confused or have to hunt for proper application of the procedure then leave them where you have them.  This is why this information is provided nice and cohesively prior to the steps in my procedure.  I've got 6 lines of instructional info prior to the steps.  This is appropriately placed and not too much for the reader to stomach.  

The only significant improvement I am working on for my version of the procedure is draft order tiebreaking steps.  The current procedure makes reference to the conference tie-breakers appropriately so, which is one of the reasons I didn't like renaming the conference tiebreakers to "Breaking ties for Wild-Cards or Among Division Champions".  Having a header as such means the reader doesn't necessarily know what procedure to use.  So I'm still trying to marry those concepts.  But other than that the format of my procedure update is more familiar with the current format and therefore more likely to be accepted by competition members, IMHO.

-Cheers
-Jerry





Since: Dec 18, 2008
Posted on: January 14, 2012 6:23 am
 

NFL Tiebreaking Rules and Procedures Discussion

nygsb42,
You've articulated well what I was trying to say earlier about forcing the reader to read paragraphs they may not be interested in.

Jerry,
I have several issues with the language in your document. I will include all of them in a single post when I am ready. Maybe tomorrow or maybe after the weekend.  In the mean time, since we are considering more than one version. Why not consider mine?

Joe,
Let me know what you think.

Tiebreaking Procedure 

 

Winning percentages are used for all records (including overall W-L-T records);  a tie counts as a half win and a half loss.

At a given tiebreaking step,

a)  If a winner cannot be determined, all teams not tied for the best record are eliminated.

b)  If one or more teams are eliminated, the procedure reverts to Head-to-Head record.

c)  If no teams are eliminated, the procedure advances to the next step.

[I struggle over whether or not the above list is too obvious to include. I believe all relevant information is included in the following single sentence:
"Note for multi-team ties:  If, at any step, one or more teams are eliminated but others remain tied, the procedure reverts to Head-to-Head record."
I worry though that this simpler version does not spell out exactly what to do in the 8-4, 7-5, 6-6, 6-6 conference record case. Undoubtedly, some will try to eliminate the two 6-6 teams and revert to Head-to-Head with the 8-4 and 7-5 teams.]

Divisional Tiebreaking Steps


1)  Head-to-Head record. For multi-team ties: combined head-to-head record.

2)  Division record.

3)  Common Games record.

4)  Conference record.

5)  Strength of Victory record.

6)  Strength of Schedule record.

7)  Conference Ranking in points scored + Conference Ranking in points allowed.

8)  Overall Ranking in points scored + Overall Ranking in points allowed.

9)  Net Points in common games.

10)  Net Points in all games.

11)  Net Touchdowns in all games.

12)  Random Selection.

 

Interdivisional Tiebreaking Steps (steps used to break ties between teams in different divisions)

 

-  Amongst a group of teams tied for a wildcard spot, select only the highest ranking team (but non-division winner) from each division. Only then, proceed to step (1).

 

-  Amongst a group of teams tied for a spot in the draft order, select only the highest [or should it be "lowest"?] ranking team from each division. Only then, proceed to step (1).

 

1)  Head-to-Head record. For multi-team ties: head-to-head sweep or combined head-to-head record*.

2)  Conference record.

3)  Common Games record, minimum of 4 games.

4)  Strength of Victory record.

5)  Strength of Schedule record.

6)  Conference Ranking in points scored + Conference Ranking in points allowed.

7)  Overall Ranking in points scored + Overall Ranking in points allowed.

8)  Net Points in conference games.

9)  Net Points in all games.

10)  Net Touchdowns in all games.

11)  Random Selection.

*Combined head-to-head record is applicable only if each team has played each of the others.

[and applicable only if deemed to be current/intended/desired practice].


Special Tiebreaking Cases

1)  Multi-Team Divisional Ties: 

Only one team is ranked within its division per application of the procedure; after the highest ranking team is determined from a group of tied teams, the procedure is applied a second time with the remaining unranked teams to determine the next highest ranking team (and so forth until all tied teams are ranked within their division).

2)  Three or More Teams Tied for Two Wildcard Spots: 

Only one wildcard team is determined per application of the procedure; after the first wildcard team is determined, the procedure is applied a second time with the highest ranking (non-division winning) team from each division, but excluding the first wildcard winner.

[These two cases seem to be the brunt of most fan and media confusion. So, to me, it makes sense to spell out what to do in each of these cases.

Tiebreaking Terms

[Each tiebreaking step is clarified further (ie how to figure out common games records, strength of victory records, etc.). It's in list form with bullets so the reader can easily find the "term/step" they want clarification on.]

Tiebreaker Applications

[This is where I list all of the acceptable usages of the procedure. This section may be unnecessary. It would be necessary only if we wish to make the procedure a legal document. If this section is removed, I would rename it "Seeding Tied Playoff Teams" and include only the following few lines regarding seeding.]


Seeding Tied Playoff Teams

Divisional Tieberakers:

Determine seeding among tied wildcard teams from the same division. UNLESS, if tiebreakers were already applied to select tied wildcard teams over other tied teams, the tied wildcard teams are seeded in the order they were selected.

Interdivisional Tiebreakers:

(a)  Determine seeding among tied division winners.

(b)  Determine seeding among tied wildcard teams from different divisions. UNLESS, if tiebreakers were already applied to select tied wildcard teams over other tied teams, the tied wildcard teams are seeded in the order they were selected.

[These are an important clarifications as it would not be that uncommon for a #6 seed to have a H2H win over a #5 seed].

[I would perhaps consolidate this into one general rule about seeding. However, I don't think it ever hurts to point out when to use which set of tiebreaking steps.]




Since: Dec 18, 2008
Posted on: January 14, 2012 4:55 am
 

NFL Tiebreaking Rules and Procedures Discussion

Jerry,

Glad we have similar goals.

I originally said:
I don't care about trying to change any current practice.

To which Jery responded:
The current practice does not ever resort to Best-Combined H2H record for breaking conference ties among 3 or more teams.  So when you say "any" do you also mean that you don't care about resorting to Best Combined H2H record in the absence of a H2H sweep but existence of a full round robin.  I thought we were all in agreement that we wanted this language clarified to include what we thought was proper practice all along?

Let me explain:

For the past few years I have been working on the assumption that the current practice was in fact to use "best-combined H2H record" (given a complete set of games) to break ties between teams in differnet divisions. If the founders, current overseers, or Elias can provide an explanation why they have never used "best-combined H2H" (given a complete set of games) or why they do not want to use this in the future, then I would be happy to exclude it from my document.  So...yes, I echo your sentiment that "we we want the language clarified to include what has been proper practice all along"....as long as it is in fact "proper practice".

I'm not trying to derail your attempt to include minor changes to the procedure. I think it's great that you are attempting this; it just doesn't interest or intrigue me the same way that it does for you. My issue is the confusing, sometimes misleading, redundant, and  altogether superfluous language, as well as a perceived gap between the procedure as written and the procedure as practiced.



Since: Jan 8, 2010
Posted on: January 12, 2012 6:37 pm
 

NFL Tiebreaking Rules and Procedures Discussion

nygsb42, 

Agreed.  Change has been made.

-Cheers
-Jerry 



Since: Nov 21, 2011
Posted on: January 12, 2012 5:10 pm
 

NFL Tiebreaking Rules and Procedures Discussion

Well, you know which one I favor...my only suggestion is that you insert "among" before division champions. That way it reads "breaking ties for wild card and among division champions" as opposed to "breaking ties for wild card and division champions", which almost sounds like its saying the same thing as "breaking ties within a division", ie "breaking ties for division champions", as that half of the clause goes. Is my convoluted explanation understandable?



Since: Jan 8, 2010
Posted on: January 12, 2012 2:45 pm
 

NFL Tiebreaking Rules and Procedures Discussion

Trying my best to bring peace and harmony to the tiebreaking community, but this getting to be a bit like going to the opthamologist (Is lens 1 better or lens 2... lens 2 or lens 1).  Folks, which one do we like best?

or

 

or  

  

 
All three are great procedures

-Cheers
-Jerry 



Since: Nov 21, 2011
Posted on: January 12, 2012 7:34 am
 

NFL Tiebreaking Rules and Procedures Discussion

While I understand your POV, I still think it ought to be labeled separately for wild card and division seeding. While the nomenclature is not 100% efficient, it still works well enough to be understandable. And I think it's counterproductive to have it so the reader "should" read about the application before getting a list. If you want it fan friendly enough that someone can just look for the list of steps without being overwhelmed by the rest of the language, you shouldn't make them have to read the thing (although clearer than the current language) cover to cover to avoid searching for where it says what tiebreaker to use for what. If its done unconsolidated, it ought to be broken down case by case as well, I think. If the main idea is to make it easier to understand, without error, and quicker to use, why make it necessary to do more than just look at the list for someone who doesn't want to bother with the messy language (it's accurate now but it's still a bear to read of you're unfamiliar with the tiebreakers).



Since: Jan 8, 2010
Posted on: January 11, 2012 5:43 pm
 

NFL Tiebreaking Rules and Procedures Discussion

I've always disliked the use of the word wild-card for the conference tiebreakers title. No matter what procedure gets used the reader must be informed somewhere what the applicable steps are for breaking ties among division champions. Also we always have to inform readers how to deal with wild-card teams. The common thread here is that we are breaking ties among confernce teams. As such it's my firm stance to leave those titles as they are. I originally had notes A and B after the "Breaking ties among conference clubs" header, but it felt awkward there. We should really be directing the reader where to go prior to listing any steps. -Jerry


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